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Downes Murray International News

Play 'show and tell' - for real

It was always on Fridays. And always preceded by hours of hunting to help my Precious Darling find something superspecial for ‘show and tell’ at school.

It was power hour for little people, really.

Competition was fierce. Toys didn’t cut it. Dinosaurs were dull. Sweets and cookies had been done to sugary death. So we took the cat – bless her furry little heart. And so it came to pass that Precious Darling held his audience spellbound, and the kids were in wide-eyed awe. So was the cat. The next week, we took the snake. His teacher had a private word with me after that. True story.
Viva vivid!
So, what does any of this have to do with fundraising? It has to do with mesmerising your donor audience, that’s what. Call it storytelling, reporting or feedback, but the good old ‘show and tell’ premise remains valid.
Show your supporters – vividly – the impact of your work and spell out what their generosity has helped you achieve. This does three important things:
  1. It validates the donor’s decision to give to your non-profit in the first place;
  2. It proves that another gift will also be put to good use; and
  3. It fortifies the ‘feel good factor’ that’s at the heart of individual giving.

Perhaps you’ve heard that one gift doesn’t make a donor. It’s the second and subsequent donations that convey true support. With over 130 000 registered not for-profit organisations in South Africa – all wanting a bite out of the same, slim slice of donor pie – those that don’t ‘show and tell’ will go hungry.

Proof of purchase
How do you know if your material is ticking the right boxes? Here’s an easypeasy way to assess your stuff – as simple as remembering the word DONOR. Critically look at your communication to see if it’s:
  • Donor-focused and demonstrates the results of what your work is achieving. Newsletters, especially, should be proof of purchase: what’s been ‘bought’ thanks to the donor?
  • Ongoing, because nobody likes to be contacted only when money is needed. Keep your supporters informed, engaged, inspired.
  • Nuanced – try to avoid a one-size-fitsall approach. Strive to personalise and tailor as much as possible.
  • Offers opportunities to contact you, give again, share an opinion. Keep the door for further communication wide open.
  • Real and credible: ensure all claims are truthful and the facts are straight.

It sounds basic, right? It is. But often, in our pursuit of finding the next new shiny fundraising tool, it’s the basics – like these – that take a back seat. Whether yours is a small, communitybased not-for-profit organisation (NPO) or a giant with global reach, the foundation of effective donor communication is the same.

Part of the family
Remember to look beyond your planned communication cycle. There are dozens of opportunities to engage donors, draw them closer to your cause and make them feel part of your family.

In addition to tried and trusted engagement magnets such as tours of your facilities, field visits and invitations to events, consider these: 

  • Radio or TV interviews: notify your donors when media exposure, such as an interview with someone from your organisation, is planned.
  • Send them clippings or links to articles that have been written by members of your organisation.
  • Make them aware of any policy, legislation or trend that is impacting your work. Keep it short and sweet – not technical or long-winded.
  • Involve them! Have to think of a name for a campaign, new project, a building? Ask your donors for suggestions.
The key to accomplishing this is agility. In an age of quick, low-cost ways to get in touch – such as SMS, social media and e-mail – it’s easier than ever to keep donors in the loop. And by doing so, you remind them why they like supporting you!

Marisol Gutierrez is Communication and Partnerships Manager at Downes Murray International. She likes snakes but loves children and cats much, much more.

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